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Farmer In The Sky

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  8,773 ratings  ·  309 reviews
'I was staring at a raw hole in the ship, almost between my feet and nearly as big as my fist. There was scorched insulation around it and in the middle of the hole I could see blackness - then a star whipped past and I realised I was staring right out into space.'

Bill Lermer, a resourceful matter-of-fact teenager of the 21st century, tells what happens when his family de
Mass Market Paperback, 174 pages
Published 1967 by Pan Books (first published 1950)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
The Earth of the future does not look nice. It is overcrowded with severe food shortages. By the way we might still have this problem, 67 years after the book was published but it is amusing that Heinlein was so wrong about the reason for this...

Anyway a father and his son, George and Bill Lermer decided they were fed up with the situation (oops, looks like I made a bad pun) and jumped at the opportunity to go to a newly established colony on Ganymede - one of the Jupiter's moons. May I remind y
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title tells it all, but this is also a very entertaining book, good read.

**** 2020 re-read

There are some people who can tell you about a trip to the post office and make it interesting. Stephen King famously told about a rabid dog, filed up a novel with said rabid dog story, and it was actually pretty good.

Robert A. Heinlein, is such a writer. Describing a far future world where the Earth is facing overpopulation and scarcity problems, one solution available to Terrans is to join up to be co
John Mccullough
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I have been interested in the process of colonization for years. In 1990 I published an article analyzing the survival pattern of the Mayflower colonists during the first year when half the colony died (having relatives along on the voyage was a big help in staying alive!!). I read this book to gain whatever insight brilliant author Heinlein might have had to the process. I “learned” a bit about subjects I had not yet considered, for instance – earth status vs. space status – on such a mundane b ...more
Christopher Paolini
The unbridled optimism and can-do attitude of Farmer in the Sky makes me smile. Even though the main characters are fleeing an overcrowded Earth, the sense of possibility that Heinlein had about humanity’s future was a wonderful thing. Alas, the female characters aren’t handled particularly well – mainly because of their lack of presence – which is a regrettable flaw in an otherwise admirable YA(ish) story.
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the books that made me love space and take another, hard look at the world around me. I can't think of a better one for kids, pre & early teens. Of course, it's great for an older crowd too, but early exposure is best. As a kid, I never liked learning just for its own sake, but you can't help learning something about rockets, celestial mechanics, & ecology as Bill, a young Eagle Scout, immigrates to Ganymede to start a new life as a farmer.

Bill is pretty cool, but far from perfe
Jared Millet
"Well gosh, Pop, wasn't that about the hokiest book you ever did read?"

"Why, yes indeedy, son. Even with them newfangled rocket ships n' all."

A few months ago I wrote in my review of Little Fuzzy that the far-future characters seemed mired in the culture and mores of the 1950's. I take it back. Compared to Farmer in the Sky, Piper's work was visionary. In Farmer we have microwave ovens, easy space travel, and mass-to-energy conversion technology, but we also have a teenager who plays accordion a
Paul E. Morph
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun book about a family who emigrate to Ganymede to start a farm as part of the burgeoning human colony there. As with most SF from this period, it's part adventure story and part science lesson, and I love that. It has a very pioneering feel to it.

I was slightly frustrated by the ending; I'd've liked the big revelation of the final few chapters to be explored in greater detail.
Lubinka Dimitrova
I love me some good old classic science fiction... This book was just wonderful, short and sweet, and the only thing that saddened me was the fact that it reminded me of Andy Weir's Martian, when it should have been the other way around. The first step into my Hugo Awards odyssey was quite promising, can't wait for what's to come next :) ...more
All I can remember about this book is a boy and his Dad and his sister travel as colonists to a different planet to settle. They knock about a bit. At the end they discover alien technology/life but don't make any contact, for some reason that I can't recall.

The amusing thing for me is that this science fiction as a rerun of the American frontier but this time made perfect because no pesky indigenous peoples as apparently they are extinct and this time the settlers had nothing to do with it, an
This is the first Heinlein Juvenile that I haven't really loved. It was certainly well written and interesting, but not a lot happened. It tells the story of some Earth colonists settling on Ganymede. Unfortunately, it's long on the details of the process and short on action, mystery and intrigue. Only at the very end is there a really interesting discovery. Definitely my least favorite so far among the early Heinlein works. ...more
Megan Baxter
It is remarkably hard to hunt down some of the earliest books that were nominated for a Hugo at either of the libraries I have access to, but I assumed that one of Heinlein's juveniles would not particularly pose a challenge. Turns out I was wrong. Then again, it popped up at a local used bookstore, and so it was, in the end, not really an issue. I was just surprised that it had been a problem at all, particularly since the one I picked up used was a recent re-issue.

Note: The rest of this review
Kevin Kuhn
I remember reading this as a boy and picked it up for my 10 year old, but had to give a reread first. Slightly dated, but largely holds up the test of time. It's definately young adult but I still enjoyed it. Largely a colonization story told first person by a teen boy. Very fast read. ...more
Doug Turnbull
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Farmer in the Sky was first published in a condensed serial format by Boy’s Life Magazine under the title of Satellite Scout. The copyright of this series is 1950. The full length novel I am reviewing was actually published in 1953 by Charles Scribner’s Sons at a price of $3.31. It was well received by critics at the time, and rightly so. The novel was awarded a Retro Hugo award in 2001.

Set at an unspecified time in the future, the overcrowded Earth is establishing colonies throughout the solar
Kat  Hooper
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars. Originally posted at FanLit.

As I mentioned in my recent review of The Number of the Beast, I used to be a fan of Robert A. Heinlein’s “Juveniles” when I was a kid. I give Heinlein much of the credit for turning me into a speculative fiction lover at a young age, so I was really disappointed that The Number of the Beast was so dreadful. To cleanse my palate, and to restore my trust in a man who was such an influence on me, I decided to read Farmer in the Sky, a Heinlein Juvenile which
Dan Keating
The first thing that you should know about Robert Heinlein's "Farmer in the Sky" is that it was written on commission from the Boy Scouts of America - they commissioned him to write a story about establishing a Boy Scout troop in space. Between that and the publication date in the 1950s, you can pretty much get your expectations straight - the book has a definitely sanitized feel and at times feels like it takes its diction directly out of an episode of Leave it to Beaver, and people who aren't ...more
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
What I love about Heinlein is that he does not use the infinite possibilities within the sci fi genre as a crutch on which to lean, like many who have written in the genre do. What I mean by that is that it is easy, within sci fi, to get so enamored by what is possible and the implications of it all, that many books end up reaching far beyond what is tenable. What Heinlein does is he makes some assumptions upon the future development of humanity and different developments and the he explores how ...more
"Farmer in the Sky" is a Heinlein juvenile (today we'd call it Young Adult science fiction) about a plucky boy who joins the colonization effort on Ganymede to escape Earth's overcrowding, food rationing, and the memory of his recently deceased mother.

I'm sure lots of boys who read this in the fifties and sixties got hooked on SF (and possibly signed up for the Boy Scouts). For the present, I think this would be a good book to recommend to a young reader who's maybe not quite ready yet for some
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who loves science fiction
I have not changed my opinion of the story, after all of these years. I still really liked it! It never really mattered to me if it was scientifically correct or not. What are important are the characters and they are wonderful. This is a great story to dream about, even now, 50 years later.
Hard work and opportunity. What could be better? This is a story of a young man and his family who go to one of the moons of Jupiter to be farmers. To have their own land, to raise their own food and make som
Jeff Yoak
Heinlein's story of a boy and his family leaving an over-crowded and starting to starve Earth to become farmers on Ganymede, moon of Jupiter, really touches me. I find I like it more with time.

2014: So much so that I just changed it to five-star. :-) It was especially good with the kids.
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Started listening to it, then after the bad recording I finished it on the Nook. Nice descriptions of basic farming; wish we were closer to settling another body in space :(
I got this book the first time out of a box of books a teacher brought in to class--which, given the school, would've been when I was fifteen.

Frankly, my interest in the 'adventures' was minimal at best. I was drawn from the start by the science--the descriptions of what I didn't know at the time was called terraforming. The social stuff frankly repulsed me, though I was interested in the idea of a blended family, then somewhat new to me.

One point: There's a sort of sneak introduction of a subth
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably my favourite feel-good book among Heinlein's juveniles, maybe because I first read it as a kid, borrowed from the university library shelf of pulp fiction ghettoised for academic analysis.

I recently got the Kindle edition and re-read it. It is depressingly clean and, in contrast to other Heinlein novels, nauseatingly full of American Family Values of the 1950s or so. In that, as often with science fiction, it tells us more about the time it was written in than the future it tri
Feb 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have often attributed my love of reading to my parents on two counts: 1) They were always reading themselves and 2) They spent many, many hours reading to us kids before we were able to read on our own and continued the tradition even after we learned to read. So I had asked my father to read this to me at a rather young age. I remember to this day that there was some discussion of weight limits aboard the spaceship and thinking that this must be for older kids who knew about stuff like that. ...more
Apr 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This is one of Heinlein's "juveniles" but still enjoyable to an adult. The hero is a boy/young man named Bill who emigrates to a fledgling colony on Ganymede along with his dad, and new step -mother and -sister.

I'm not sure how realistic the science here is, but it isn't over-the-top. It definitely works for the story.

The major appeal is the development of Bill and co. into successful colonists and survivors, and the way they meet and overcome these challenges.

It reads quickly and well. The na
Good solid scifi adventure. Really enjoyed it
This is another Heinlein that has held up fairly well. It is a good story. Not much sexism or racism in this book....some hysterical entitled women, but there were also digs at bossy entitled guys who don't know what they are trying to boss.

The final adventure of the book seemed a bit tacked on since it didn't seem to flow logically from the prior event, the earthquake and conditions from that.

Recommended. Not nearly as good as Time for the stars or Space Cadet, but worth a read if you like He
Wil C. Fry
Dec 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is one of Heinlein’s better novels, in my opinion. Not only did he finally begin including competent women characters, but the story is interesting, fast-paced, and tight. (Except for the odd part at the end where he squeezes an “ancient aliens” scene in just before the conclusion.)

(I published a longer review on my website.)

Steve Wiggins
I get a little unstable when lots of books are around. I attend one or two big used book sales each year, and unless I stick to my list chaos ensues. A few years back I bought a couple of science fiction novels at one of these sales. I can't recall why I picked these titles and not others. As a child I read lots of science fiction. Indeed, my first attempts at writing were in that genre. I loved it. Now as an adult when I try to get back into it, the journey's difficult. That's not the fault of ...more
Julie Davis
I have always enjoyed Heinlein’s tales for juveniles more than his other writing. Having been told many times that I should read this book, I jumped at the chance to review the audiobook for SFFaudio. Bill is an Eagle Scout which comes in handy more than once and which reminds listeners of the original audience. In some ways this is like listening to the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder as Bill details homesteading on Ganymede. Heinlein does a good job of transferring standard pioneer ...more
A classic in the "yesterday's vision of tomorrow" genre. Thoroughly written for adolescent boys in the 1950s. I liked it anyway. It's very much of its time: loaded with delightful period slang (I could practically hear the conversations as '50s school filmstrips) and people are planet-hopping but doing their calculations on slide rules. Heinlein's also stuck working with the information on the solar system he had at the time, which even as recently as 1950 had major gaps. (DID YOU KNOW? Until th ...more
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Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction".

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre

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